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Cover Letter - What should you include?

Cover Letter - What should you include?

Dear Sir/Madam, I'd like a job! Regards, Your New Employee

Hopefully you had chance to check out my last post Is the Cover Letter Dead? and if you did then this post might be slightly confusing! As I ended by saying the traditional cover letter wasn't needed and now I am saying what should you include in it? Don't panic I haven't back tracked, this is going to be all about what to include in your introduction when sending off your CV to an employer.

The introduction is the first thing that the recruiter gets to see when you send off your application and some employers are making judgements at that stage. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but that doesn't really count in the job search unfortunately. Employers are spending seconds on your applications, seconds! So what should you include in that introduction to ensure they stay for a little longer to find out how great you are. 

Cover Letter - what's it all about?

What's it all about?

First things first you need to get to the point, why are you writing to this employer. You need to start off by explaining what job you wish to apply for and where you saw that job advertised. Straight out the gate you are showing the recruiter you aren't just pressing apply blindly; you actually want to apply for their role. There is nothing worse than getting an application through that states the wrong job title or company name - you need to be checking your application before sending!

Cover Letter - Why are you interested?

Why are you interested?

It's never enough just to say you want to apply for a job, you need to show your enthusiasm and passion for the role. You need to break it down in to two main sections, why are you interested in the job and the company:

  • It starts by doing your research. Find out about the company and add a small element of your research in your first paragraph. Whether knowing they are a award winning design company, or they are associated with a particular professional body. Every company wants to know what you know about them and how you'll fit with the company culture so make it clear in your cover letter.
  • Secondly, think about what stood out to you in the advert. When you first read the about the role what made you want to apply, did they speak about a great training programme or their fantastic charity work? Again, you are highlighting that you have actually read and researched the role but more importantly you are making the introduction relevant to the recruiter. 

Cover Letter - Why do you fit the job?

Why do you fit the role?

Although the CV itself should demonstrate your skills, strengths and experiences your cover letter needs to quickly represent why that employer should want to hire you. It's basically a summary of why you fit the specification.

I've mentioned this tip previously but this is where it comes into place perfectly; print out the job advert and start highlighting the employers requirements, then you need to add those keywords into your cover letter. You are basically matching yourself to the job and making it really clear to the employer why they should employ you. Using examples of your experience will also give more depth to why you are the perfect candidate. 
However, remember no war and peace here, keep it to the point!

Cover Letter - Tailoring


Also known as my favourite subject! Your cover letter should change every time you apply for a job so no copy and pasting here. If you followed the above then it should be impossible to just send off the same template each time but to make it more unique you can put your researching skills to good use once more. 

So skip the "To whom it may concern" or the "Sir/ Madam" and actually find out the name of the hiring manager and direct your application straight to them. Firstly, it will mean your CV doesn't get lost on the wrong persons desk and secondly it will show you've gone the extra mile. 
Put those Facebook stalking skills to good use and get on the company website to see if there is a directory, review the advert for names to connect with or go to Linkedin and find out the name of those in HR or recruitment. It doesn't take as long as you think and it could get you a much quicker response.

Essentially you need to summarises yourself in no more than a page, detailing why the employer should keep reading. No one likes generic or rehearsed so be natural, tailored and show you passion for their role. 
I promise you, you will hear back much quicker if you just spend a little extra time on tailoring your approach.

Related Read:
Now you have done the Cover Letter head over to my CV Writing post to finish off that application.

CV Writing and Layouts


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